Saucy In Any Language

Various Artists – Salsa Around the World
Various Artists

Salsa Around the World (Putumayo PUT 213-2, 2003)

Salsa (the music, not the condiment) has become one of the most recognizable and popular genres around. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s also become one of the most adaptable. Despite the very distinct Latin characteristics that make salsa what it is, it can start a party in many a culture. Bands all over the planet are playing salsa now, often splicing in shades of the dance or traditional music of their own country to create refreshing hybrids or punch up the groove factor even more.

Salsa Around the World, in much the same spirit as the Candela/Tinder Salsa Mundo series, offers up salsa from both hemispheres. Straight up and authentic, but with enough local color from each nation represented, the collection scores.

Scotland’s Salsa Celtica get things underway with with a high(land)-stepping piece not unlike Cuban charanga, and the heat stays on from there. Senegal’s always-versatile Toure Kunda and Cameroon’s Richard Bona show just how deep salsa rhythms sound when re-introduced to their African origins.

For a taste of salsa mixed with the angular intensity of Arabic pop, give Morocco’s Mousta Largo a listen. India is represented by the too-brief charms of Shaan’s Bollywood-inspired mix, and the swinging tracks from Japan, Greece, Finland and Haiti will have you marveling at how lovingly (and infectiously) they make the salsa sound their own.

There’s a nice amount of depth here, but check your cares at the door. This one’s all about the good time that everyone occasionally needs and that salsa music never fails to deliver.

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